It that time of the month once again, when members of the We Knead To Bake group of bread bakers post their bread. This month’s choice of bread was a simple and very easy bread – Petit Pains au Lait which is are classic and soft French milk rolls. Petit Pains au Lait translates to English as small or little milk breads. They may be simple to bake but they’re elegant looking as one would expect of a French bread and really, really good.
The dough for Pains au Lait is slightly enriched one but not as rich as brioche dough. The liquid in this bread is milk (no water or anything else), and of course, there’s a generous amount of butter though not too much. Pains au Lait are typically not very sweet so the pearl sugar that usually crusts the surface of these little breads adds a little sweetness and texture, not to mention aesthetic appeal.
They can be served plain along with French soup, or can be baked with a sweet filling like chocolate or even thick custard and served for breakfast or with tea.
When baked properly, Petit Pains au Lait area beautiful golden brown on the outside, and almost flaky on the inside because of the way the dough is rolled and shaped. Apart from the pearl sugar which may or may not be used, what is typical about them is the beautiful pattern on them which is created by cutting through the top with scissors just before baking them.
Attractively shaped breads are a weakness of mine, and when I discovered Petit Pains au Lait a while back, they made it to my list of “must bake breads”. Any pattern of slashing or snipping to decorate this milk bread rolls is fine as the idea is to create a beautiful pattern on them. Petie Pains au Lait without a decorative pattern doesn’t make them any less delightful, and is equally acceptable. You can also shape this dough into any shape of your choice too.
Should you however want to decorate your milk bread rolls and not very sure how to go about it, then do take a look at both these video links to get a good idea of how this bread is cut/ slashed to create its signature pattern.
Petit Pains au Lait (French Milk Bread/ Rolls)
(Adapted from Gourmet by Kat)